Giving as a Lifestyle
“In every group there is enough money to provide for all the needs
– if everyone were to obey the Lord with their money.”
After listening to a message by Loren Cunningham, the above quote kept coming back to me. Whatever I have been given, whatever is available to me right now, is not necessarily just meant for me personally. God challenged me to keep my eyes and ears more open to see the needs around me – maybe I have been given the means to meet them?
It has been said that our generation right now has all the finances we need to finish the work that God has given us – the Great Commission. There is no lack of resources between all of us, but sometimes there is a lack of giving and receiving. “Every person, whether rich or poor, needs to both give and receive. It is essential to the life flow of the church.” If we stop this flow of giving and receiving, we are like a lake without flowing water – we become stagnant. 2 Cor 8:14 (NLT) says “Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty, and can share with you when you need it.” There are many passages in the Bible that make it clear that being a Christian and generosity go hand in hand. Why is this such an important part of being a Christian? Why doesn’t God just provide for us individually whatever we need?
God’s purpose in generosity
God has designed us in this way because that is what He is like. Our God is the ultimate giver, to the extent of giving His own son so that we would have life (John 3:16). What material things could matter more than this ultimate gift that we have already been given? But even beyond allowing His son to die for us, He keeps on giving every day, everything that we need (Psalm 34:10).
Giving disciples and challenges me to trust God
Through imitating Him, we don’t just become more like Him, but we also break greed and selfishness that want to take over our heart. The oh-so-simple act of giving is an excellent discipleship tool and a great mirror to reflect the state of our hearts.
I remember very clearly when God started challenging me in this area. During my time in university, I regularly had my small group over at night. Every time they came over, I struggled what to offer them as a snack. Would I give them just something from my cupboard that I didn’t care about or the best that I had to offer? As a student, with limited finances, this was a step of faith for me (1 Tim 6:17). I had to make the decision if I would listen to God’s challenge, let go of my selfishness and prefer my friends or keep the best for myself. In the years since university and joining missions, God challenged me countless times if I would still respond to His still small voice. Most times I did. And I have never lacked (Prov 11:24). Every week, often multiple times, we have guests over at our house and there is always something that I can offer them. And the best part? I get all the joy from it! It is the greatest pleasure to see people feel welcome and enjoy the food and drinks on our table. “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Prov 11:25
Giving connects me with those I give to
YWAM Perth has many ministries that regularly go on outreach, sometimes multiple times in a year. Because we believe in God’s principle of giving to us as a whole – in this case, us as a base – these teams often fundraise or ask my husband and I personally for support. Over the last years, God has led us many times to invest finances into one particular team. Through that giving and the relationships that developed out of it, this team has a special place in my heart. I am connected to their outreaches and particularly interested in what they are doing (Matt 6:21). When I hear their testimonies, I know that I have an inheritance in everything that happened and every person who was touched by their ministry. Like the parable of the talents that Jesus shares in Matt 25:14-30, I believe that we have invested our money well. We get to be a part of what they are doing out there in the nations! What a privilege.
The gift of receiving
But it’s not just giving that is important, receiving is important as well. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35c), the Bible is very clear in that. There are a lot more scriptures on giving than on receiving. So why is it not enough to just keep giving?
As Christians, we are not meant to live independent on our own from others. God created us for a community (2 Cor 8:14) – to give where we have and to receive where we have a need. That doesn’t have to be just finances, but it could be berries that a friend offers. Do we reject them? Or do we take them gratefully, happy about the abundance that our friend has in her garden? When we run out of eggs – are we willing to go and ask our neighbour or would we rather take the trip to the grocery store and buy some?
Receiving gifts from others build community, but it also helps us to stay humble. By receiving, we admit that we have a need, that we don’t have it all – and that is not a bad thing! Others are blessed by being able to give, just as we are blessed by their generosity.
How can I become a joyful giver?
The Bible gives us a few keys to developing a generous heart that gives joyfully (2 Cor 9:7). The foundation to generosity is softness towards God’s promptings; it’s obedience in all those little nudges towards giving where we see a need. Our heart grows harder and harder with every time that we resist that prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Develop a soft heart
A few weeks ago, I came across Prov 21:13 (NLT) “Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.” I felt so challenged about a hardness that I had started to develop in my heart. Where did that hardness show? – In my willingness to offer the best to my guests! God challenged me again in my understanding that He doesn’t just give to me individually, but to us. Sometimes it is ok for us to receive special things and have them for ourselves. But if we keep them out of a hard heart, they become a hindrance to our relationship with God.
Seek first the Kingdom of God
Another key is to keep our eyes on building the Kingdom of God and following Him. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matt 6:33 NLT) If we keep our eyes on investing in God’s purposes, investing those talents that He has given us, the giving itself is not hard at all! It’s a privilege. What a joy to be a part of changing lives in another country or across the road, where I am not called to be right now!
It’s all about the heart
Throughout the Bible, there is an emphasis on giving out of a free will. When the people of Israel were asked to contribute to building the tabernacle (Exod 35), it emphasises six times in one chapter that they were giving time, resources and skills out of a free will and only those gave, who felt led to give. We are not giving because God forces us to; we give because we have been given much, out of gratefulness for who He is and what He has done.
“Giving” challenges one of the greatest enemies of our relationship with God – our love for money (Luke 16:13c). It forces us to depend on Him for His provision, creates a community around us and shows God’s character to those we give to. It is such a great joy and privilege to be a part of establishing God’s Kingdom through our giving. Can we, together, see this current generation reached by giving whenever God asks us to?
 Christian Growth Study Bible, p. 1253
Read the other articles from this edition:
- Vision for a City: Manila, Philippines
- Does My Prayer Make a Difference?
- Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the Ends of the Earth